Writers Worth: Your Freelance Writing Formula

It’s hard to believe this is the last full week of Writers Worth Month! We’ll still have posts through May 31st, so check back every day.

Still, it’s fine to show up here every day and read about how worthy your skills are, blah blah….

Today, we’re actually going to calculate it. And Cathy Miller is back to show us how.

A Simple Business Formula for Calculating a Writer’s Worth

by Cathy Miller

Have you ever surprised yourself by accomplishing something you were sure you couldn’t do? That describes my relationship with math. That relationship was really put to the test when I took a Statistics course in college.

It started so badly, I called the instructor to tell him I felt it was best if I dropped out. Fortunately for me, my instructor convinced me to hang in there. How blessed are we when we find a teacher who cares? I ended up with an A in the course but it is was not easy.

I’m not sure what it is about Writers Worth this year that has math dominating my guest post themes. Perhaps it goes back to the idea of accomplishing something you thought you couldn’t do.

My previous post offered a calculation for determining your absolute value as a writer. But what about a formula for the business that hires you?

A Business Education

How often have you asked a potential client for his or her project budget and received the response, “Well, I don’t really have one”? Clients with that response may be your biggest challenge. Why? Because they have no idea how to value your services.

They need a simple business formula for calculating a writer’s worth. Before I share that formula, allow me to paraphrase some advice from my previous post.

Don’t confuse a client’s budget with your worth as a writer. Click To Tweet

However, there is value in educating prospects and clients in calculating a writer’s worth to their business. That basic business formula is: VALUE – COST = PLUS or MINUS


The tricky part is in defining value. You can help your prospect or client do that.

Defining Value

Value is subjective. That is why it is so important for you to know your absolute value in your writing career. Your value may not equal your prospect’s value. And that’s okay. I appreciate a Maserati but that does not mean I can afford one – or value it enough to give up my home.

So how does a business define value? Here are a few ideas and questions to help your prospects answer that.

How much time and cost would be needed to do the project in-house? Consider the following.

  1. Staff members involved in the project – research, consulting, writing, design, editing, fulfillment (e.g., printing, posting online, distribution), marketing
  2. Calculate time needed for each phase – multiply by individual’s hourly compensation
  3. Identify critical dates for fulfillment – does current workload/schedules/staffing support deadline? Will other projects need to be put on hold?

Do you have the skills needed to do the project in-house?

  1. Do subject matter experts (SMEs) possess both the time and the writing skills to complete the project? Or do you have other staff with writing skills who can clearly communicate the SME’s information?
  2. Do you have staff with project management skills to keep everyone on track?

What would be the outcome if you were unable to complete the project in-house?

  1. Competitive disadvantage
  2. Lost productivity
  3. Increased costs

Even if business owners do not spreadsheet each element, the questions get them thinking from a time and cost perspective. It helps them think like the business professional they are.

Now have you client or prospect use those same questions on outsourcing all or part of the project.

  1. How much time and cost is associated with outsourcing the project?
  2. Does the contracted person(s) have the necessary skills and experience?
  3. What are the possible outcomes of outsourcing the project?

One final question can be applied to both the in-house and outsourcing set of questions.

Is it worth the hassle?

When businesses define value, calculating a writer’s worth is simple. The result may be a negative now but that doesn’t mean that can’t change. Who knows. Maybe someday that Maserati will be mine.

Cathy Miller has a business writing blog at Simply stated business. Her blog, Why 60 Miles, is in the early stages and inspired by her passion for walking 60 miles in 3 days to support research for finding a cure for cancer.



Writers, how have you determined your worth? How do you think that differs from your rate? Does it?

How do you think that differs from your rate? Does it?

About the author




  • Cathy Miller May 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Thanks for all you do, Lori. I appreciate the huge undertaking that Writers Worth month is and I am grateful you do this each year. Also, I’m glad it’s you and not me. 😀

    • lwidmer May 22, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Cathy, I appreciate your help. Every year, you volunteer a post (this year two of them). That eases the burden so much!

      I kinda wish it were you, particularly about 22 days in. 😉

      • Cathy Miller May 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        😀 I understand that! Like I said, a huge undertaking.